How Do Stories Work? Part 6: How is the attention economy changing the way we tell stories?

Dear Storyteller,

As filmmakers, we must adapt and evolve with the times to capture and maintain our audience’s attention while keeping purpose and authenticity at the core of our storytelling.

Many purists would consider the idea of ‘versioning a story’, that is adapting it for different ‘channels’, to conflict with the very soul of the storyteller.  A story should simply have the time it needs to be well told.

But what works ‘best’ depends on the context of the telling. We no longer communicate sat face-to-face around an open fire but through multiple and proliferating digital media. We have been suddenly removed from millions of years of storytelling evolution.

However, the need to communicate across multiple media can be an invaluable opportunity for stories to reach and connect with wider audiences. Film narratives need to be crafted into multiple variants to engage, not as auteur works of art, but as purposeful tools with a central unifying message.


In times of seemingly dwindling attention spans, the pressure is on to communicate the essence of a message more quickly.

But how fast can you tell a story with a sense of context, character, place and emotion, whilst also letting it breathe, before the story falls apart and the essence is lost?

Of course, our attention span depends on viewing context and on how invested the audience is in your subject before they take their seat.

So, you need different versions to engage different audiences watching with different levels of pre-existing attenuation to your message, from the active listener to the casually curious.


Is it possible to tell a complex story dealing with complexity, multiple characters, and the nuance of human emotion in one minute?

Well yes, but not in one step. Editing, unlike say sculpting, is a non-destructive process of refinement. So by a careful process of distillation, each step yields a shorter yet distinct form that can be used to connect with audiences in different ways, each time stripping away more of the context and complexity whilst bringing the essence more sharply into focus.

Here’s a recent example of this creative versioning process in action.

The brief from our colleagues ImpactEd Group was to reveal the transformation of a child enabled by the concentrated attention of an adult, herself guided by the skilful evaluation of data.

Each version of the film had to convey more and more succinctly both the context and emotion of a transformative experience.


How can data help transform the life of a child?

Edit phase 1 (8 days)

5’00″ version for a Campaign Launch for a pre-invited captive audience


Edit phase 2 (2 days)

2’30” version for Branded Channels for a partially engaged remote audience that has navigated to your domain


Edit phase 3 (1 day)

1’00″ version for Social Media for an audience with passing curiosity surfing your content via media feeds guided by hashtags and leading text.

What remains is the transformative essence of a relationship. An adult really listening to a child.

“I didn’t have that one person I could talk to. And now I have.”


So attention is in short supply.

As the attention economy pulls us into a vortex of distraction, we need to fall in love again with being.

And films, as channels of emotion, can remind us of the very essence of who we are.

All we need is someone to listen, and someone to listen to.


How do stories work? A newsletter for storytellers, changemakers and dreamers:



Got a story to tell?  Or purpose to communicate? Need some friendly advice?

🎯 Please get in touch.


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NextGen Skills academy has teamed up with industry leaders A Productions and Aardman Animations to offer aspiring animators a free 10-week Accelerate in Animation Skills Bootcamp to accelerate their career prospects.

The course is designed for young people aged 19+ who already have intermediate 3D animation skills and want to enter the animation industry. It has been created in partnership with these two renowned local studios to create industry-vetted content and expert guidance.

Participants needs to be based in the West of England Combined Authority region or planning to do so and the course is a perfect fit for recent animation graduates and those will self-taught skills who are ready to take their passion to the professional level.

Those taking part will work collaboratively on an industry brief, working as a remote animation studio to craft a captivating short film in just ten weeks. The creative brief has been approved by A Productions and Aardman and participants will benefit from the wisdom of dedicated tutors and animations professionals through masterclasses and studio insights.

The course will give students a deeper understanding of the animation industry, enhance their technical skills, help them acquire real experience of the animation pipeline and build an impressive portfolio of work.

The Accelerate in Animation Skills Bootcamp takes place between January and March 2024 and the deadline for applications is Thursday 14th December.

Full details can be found on the NextGen Futures website and applications can be made here.

Moonraker VFX, a Bristol-based Visual Effects Studio, took part in the RTS Futures Festival yesterday, offering valuable insights, advice and information to aspiring individuals seeking a career in the television industry.

The free event took place at M Shed on Bristol’s Harbourside and drew over 400 young attendees, where a range of the city’s media organisations were on hand to give careers advice.

Hosted by the Royal Television Society, the RTS Futures Festival provided a platform for industry professionals to connect with graduates and students, guiding them through the complexities of the modern broadcasting landscape.

Moonraker—known for its groundbreaking work in Natural History programming including the BBC’s recent Earth series—engaged with attendees, sharing knowledge and experiences to inspire the next generation of talent.

Simon Clarke, Creative Director at Moonraker, commented, “Participating in the RTS Futures Festival was a fantastic opportunity for us to connect with the bright minds set to become future leaders of the television industry in the decades to come. Moonraker’s presence at the event underscores the studio’s commitment to fostering talent and contributing to the growth of the sector.”

RTS Futures aims to help graduates and those in the early stages of their career to progress and learn about different areas of television. It has an ongoing calendar of events, learn more:

JonesMillbank, Bristol-based video production company, has won a competitive pitch to work with I heart Wines on their 2024 TV ad campaign.

The wine with a big heart has chosen the production company that connects brands to people to reach and resonate with their loyal customers and new converts alike.

The campaign will align with a brand refresh that comes 13 years after launch.

“The win is a fantastic opportunity to work with an exciting brand that’s bubbling with personality, sass, confidence and authenticity.”

“When we were invited to pitch we knew we had to go for it. We’re incredibly proud that the pitch was led by our 26-year-old in-house creative and director Abbie Howes. She completely embodied the brief and their audience.”

“Our concepts hit all the right notes and we’re delighted to have been chosen to work directly with Freixenet Copestick”.

Emma Fogerty, Senior Brand Manager at Freixenet Copestick said “we are absolutely thrilled to announce that we have chosen JonesMilbank to be our creative partner in producing our new TV ad. We’re excited to embark on this journey together to bring our ideas to life and see the creative vision take shape.”


JonesMillbank are a full-service video production company.

They work in-house with a talented team of multi-disciplined creatives, telling authentic stories for a range of clients such as Delivery Hero, IDLES, SOHO Coffee Co and University of Bristol. | 01173706372 | [email protected]

Renewable electricity company Good Energy, in collaboration with Bristol-based agency, McCann, has revealed its new TV advert urging homeowners to choose the greener option with a Good Energy heat pump.

The 20 second ad, voiced by soul singer and songwriter Lemar, features an animation of a deflating home with the question ‘heating letting your home down?’

Two animated engineers then install a heat pump onto the deflated home, which then reinflates as viewers are encouraged to choose hassle free heating and ‘fill their home with Good Energy’.

The ad brings to life Good Energy’s premium heat pump installation offering, providing customers with a fully in-house expert service from design through to installation and on to aftercare, ensuring that switching to a heat pump is hassle free.

Broadcasting soon after the government announced a 50% increase in the Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant for installing a heat pump to £7,500, the ad will be shown via Sky Adsmart and ITVX to viewers in Good Energy’s key catchment areas in the South and South West.

Good Energy worked with McCann Bristol on the creative development and media strategy for the advert, which is appearing from October 9th, and will be supported with digital retargeting and local PR activity.

Laura Wildish, Head of Marketing, Good Energy said: “Heat pumps are a real hot topic right now. With the increase to the grant, and as people are turning their heating on, lots of people will be thinking about making the switch.

“Our ad is for people who might have been considering for a while but want to know they are going to get expert advice and a good service. We hope lots more homes will be filled with Good Energy soon.”

Leading filmmakers, producers and writers will join production companies, commissioners, and politicians will gather at the second Bristol and Bath Screen Summit on Wednesday 8 November. The UWE Bristol event at Arnolfini will celebrate the rise of the regional voice but will also explore what is required over the next five years to drive growth and to continue to develop talent in the city region.

Hosted by TV presenter and writer Sarah Beeny, the Bristol and Bath Screen Summit will build on last year’s inaugural event, with updates on the work towards a Regional Production Fund and the first regional new writers’ programme led by Channel 4.

Actor and BBC Radio Bristol’s new breakfast show presenter ‘Mr Bristol’ Joe Sims and ITV West Country’s Seb Choudhury will lead a series of expert panels as they unpick the building blocks for talent development, including what makes a hit returning series and what everyone needs to know about embracing creative technologies – from deepfake to artificial intelligence: the pleasure and the pain.

Award-winning producers and directors from the region’s production community, including Five Mile Films, BBC Studios Factual Entertainment Productions, Strong Film and TV, Twenty Twenty Television, Sid Wild and Bristol AF, will be among the panellists.

The afternoon’s final session will bring Nancy Medina (Bristol Old Vic’s artistic director and joint CEO) together with Sir Peter Bazalgette (co-chair of the Creative Industries Council, chair of the Royal College of Art’s Council, and former chair of ITV plc) to discuss the UK Creative Sector Vision.

The creation of the Screen Summit is a key recommendation from research by academics at UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC).

Figures released by the Bristol Film Office show that film and TV production was worth an estimated £20.1m to Bristol’s economy in the 2022-23 financial year. This demonstrates that production levels have been maintained over the last 12 months. However, there continue to be opportunities to enhance the strength and visibility of the area as a regional screen powerhouse.

Lynn Barlow, UWE Bristol’s assistant vice-chancellor creative and cultural undustries engagement, said:

“With shows such as ITV’s Ruby Speaking and BBC 1’s Rain Dogs shining the light on Bristol, plus a highly anticipated third series of the Outlaws in the cutting room – no doubt bringing more BAFTAs, Emmy nominations and RTS awards to the region – it’s not surprising that UNESCO is using Bristol City of Film as a case study of a thriving, creative, and innovative city.

“But in the year since the last Summit our freelance community has seen work dry up with productions postponed or cancelled and, although there are positive signs for an upturn in business, it will be a while before it is buoyant again.

“The Screen Summit will bring together key players in the industry to continue the discussion on how to boost the region as a sustainable production location, build on its strengths and overcome the challenges in its way.”

Tickets for Bristol and Bath Screen Summit

The Bristol and Bath Screen Summit takes place on 8 November at Arnolfini, Bristol, from 14:00. Networking and refreshments will follow.

Tickets cost £25 for an individual and £35 for a company and are available online.

40 free tickets for freelancers, with at least one year’s industry experience, are available on a first come first served basis. To qualify, freelancers are asked to include a link to a professional profile on Talent Manager or LinkedIn when booking a ticket. This offer is open until 18:00 on Sunday 22 October.

How Do Stories Work? Part 5 On myths and Madness?

“I didn’t enjoy butchering this magnificent creature, but you apparently need a wake-up call that even you should be able to understand.”

Grant Hadwin


Dear Storyteller,

Domicide is the act of destroying one’s own home.  It can also be a tendency, carried out through the repetition of thousands of hidden actions, mostly out of sight and out of mind.

I’ve been wanting to write a post on this subject for a while, but have been holding back, waiting for a triggering moment.  And last Wednesday that moment arrived when the Sycamore Gap came crashing into the cosy living room of our collective imagination.

The loss of a beautiful lone tree fuelled a predictable outcry.  The media fuelled the outrage, baying for the punishment of some ‘degenerate youth’, before pivoting to turn with less outrage on a ‘crazy old man’, perhaps a ‘former lumberjack’.

What is it about one tree that causes us such outspoken agonies while the destruction of the wider world continues unabated with passive acceptance?  Could this have something to do with the power of the totem, working as symbolic pressure valve to channel and dissipate our collective sense of grief and loss at the destruction of our home, releasing our outrage so we can return to business as usual?

When I heard the news, my first thought was not for the tree but for the person who had chopped it down.  What could have been their motivation?  For this must have been a carefully planned act, and so can’t be easily dismissed as some moment of ‘madness’.  No, to me, this felt like a howl of pain, a wake-up call that I recognised immediately.

In 2007 I started a 7-year filmed investigation into the motivations of another ‘environmental terrorist’, who orchestrated another attack on an ancient tree in an apparently mindless ‘crime against nature’.  But it was not that simple.

Desperate times call for desperate actions.

On the islands of Haida Gwaii, a remote archipelago off Canada’s Pacific coast, stood a giant and genetically unique Sitka Spruce, known to the indigenous Haida people as ‘K’iid K’iyass’.  Owing to the unusual yellow pigmentation of its needles, outsiders called it ‘The Golden Spruce’.

There it stood on the banks of the Yakoun River for 250 years, protected from the enveloping tide of industrial logging in its own protected reserve, complete with tourist trail and signage.  Until one night in January 1997, when a lone former logger and timber engineer called Grant Hadwin arrived under the cover of darkness to cut it down.

A Mythical Being

For the Haida, ‘The Golden Spruce’ was much more than an object of scientific curiosity, a beautiful ‘freak’ of nature. For them this was a mythical being, a boy transformed into a tree, a sacred elder that stood as a wonderous manifestation of the connectedness of all things- a kin-centric belief system.

And Grant Hadwin, himself an instrument of the system of industrial extraction, had come to destroy it in a self-proclaimed act of protest.  What kind of madness was this?

This is an extract from the letter that Grant wrote to the authorities justifying his actions:

“Dear Sir or Madam,

I don’t care much for ‘freaks’ whether they teach in University classrooms, sit in corporate board rooms, perform in the circus or are put on display as examples of old growth forest.

I mean this action to be an expression of my rage and hatred towards university trained professionals and their supporters whose ideas, ethics, denials, part truths and attitudes appear to be responsible for most of the abominations done towards life on this planet made in the name of ‘progress’.

I didn’t enjoy butchering this magnificent creature, but you apparently need a wake-up call that even you should be able to understand.

It was challenging to leave this majestic plant in a temporary vertical position.

The next storm will cause this one thousand year old plant to fall into or near The Yakoun River.  Please find enclosed some of the last known photographs of ‘The Golden Spruce’. 

Yours truly,

Grant Hadwin.”

And this was my film interpretation of the aftermath of what had happened.

The Aftermath

What insight might this story give us into the mind of the individual who took down our cherished Sycamore?

And what does this particular choice of totem, the lone tree left standing in a sea of devastation, tell us about the timeless forces of corruption at work on humanity, and about our separation from the land, our natural home?

Two Solitary Trees and The Legacy of Extraction

The Golden Spruce came with its own ancient mythology, with a story that began with the murderous arrival of the Europeans in 1774.  The British came bearing ‘gifts’ of blankets laced with smallpox, hoping to wipe the indigenous people from the face of their land.  70% of the Haida population died in the enveloping plague, with lone survivors retreating into the sanctuary of the forest.  Among them were a village elder and his grandson.  As they fled the village, the boy ignored his grandfather’s advice not to look back, and found himself rooted to the ground, a boy transforming into a tree.

And there K’iid K’iyass stood for 250 years, one tree preserved by the logging company as a living cultural artefact, while the rest of the ancient forest was cut down and hauled to the mill, first as masts for ships of war, and then to build the frames of aircraft that brought death from the skies.

And the Sycamore Gap bears the same legacy.  A lone tree, left in a sea of devastation, the land wiped clean by the civilising forces of Rome as far as the wall of Hadrian, built to keep out the savages who still lived from the land and who resisted agriculture, taxation and wage slavery.  The wall was there to keep the money economy of Rome safe and sound until the empire burned under Nero, incinerated by the flames of its own self-serving corruption and arrogance.

How do stories work? A newsletter for storytellers, changemakers and dreamers:


Got a story to tell?  Or a purpose to champion? Need some friendly advice?

#Storytelling #Filmmaking #Authenticity #Purpose #Meaning #FilmsToBelieveIn #DocumentaryFilmmaking #FilmProductionBristol #BristolFilmmakers #DocumentaryFilmmakerBristol


Moonbase: The Next Step has been launched in two new formats at the Giant Screen Cinema Association’s (GSCA) conference.

Originally made in an immersive 4K Fulldome format, Moonbase: The Next Step will now also be available for IMAX and Giant Screens.

The additional formats will allow new audiences to go on a breath-taking lunar journey where a hostile environment tests the limits of science and engineering.

Moonraker VFX, the Bristol, UK, based visual effects studio behind Moonbase, has appointed Cosmic Picture as its sole distributor for the IMAX and Giant Screen markets.

The announcement has been made to coincide with the GSCA conference (18-21st Sept) held across venues in Cincinnati and Indianapolis, where a Giant Screen version of the Moonbase trailer was shown.

Narrated by NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, Moonbase: The Next Step is a story of human endeavour, explaining how humanity might one day fulfil its ambition to make a permanent base on the Moon.

Emmy Award winning, Moonraker VFX, has a passion for science and natural history television (having worked on the BBC’s acclaimed Earth series and National Geographic’s One Strange Rock) as well as extensive experience in Immersive Visitor Attractions.

Moonraker VFX also worked on the BBC’s Arctic: Our Frozen Planet, which swept the board at the GSCA’s awards this year, winning Best Film-Short Subject (tie), Best Film for Lifelong Learning, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Design and Best Original Score.

Jon Grafton, Managing Director and Co-Founder, Moonraker VFX, said: “We’ve had a very successful year at the GSCA conference and are very excited for Moonbase’s future with IMAX and Giant Screen audiences.

“With India’s recent successful Moon landing, space exploration is back in the news and the public imagination.  Informed by our team of scientific advisers, our film is the perfect guide to recent events and future next steps in space exploration. Moonbase: The Next Step will make a great addition to the programmes of IMAX and Giant Screen venues.”

Antonietta Monteleone, President of Film Distribution at Cosmic Picture, said: “We are excited to be partnering with the highly experienced award winning team at Moonraker and look forward to bringing this immersive adventure to Giant Screen and IMAX audiences around the world.”

Please direct enquiries about Moonbase’s new IMAX and Giant Screen formats to Antonietta Monteleone, President of Film Distribution, [email protected], Tel:  914-617-8032, Mobile: 203-505-0810,

To learn more about fulldome formats, request an information pack or for licensing enquiries contact [email protected] or visit

Finding it difficult to break into the animation industry or to understand what role would be right for you? Here’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss!

Next week, there’s a chance to meet a host of animation professionals from some of Bristol’s leading studios, who will be taking part in the industry one-to-one panel at the next Bristol Animation Meetup.

The professionals on the panel – from Aardman Animations, A Productions, Rumpus Animation, Sun & Moon Studios and Skwigly magazine – will be available for 10-minute pre-bookable slots from 7pm-8.30pm. They are open to all members of the animation community, from professionals and students to hobbyists and enthusiasts.

The line-up includes Jo Hepworth from A Productions. Working as a director, Jo is involved in all aspects of the animation production pipeline, from scripts to music and everything in-between. Her daily roles see her working closely with all departments to guide the team and keep everyone on track creatively.

The Bristol Animation Meetup event takes place at King Street Brew House on September 28th from 6:30pm. To celebrate its first anniversary, there will be a two-hour session where members of the animation community can get advice, feedback and guidance from leading lights of the industry.

For more info and to book a chat with Jo or any of the other industry guests, follow the link here.

BAM is sponsored by Skwigly online animation magazine, Rumpus Animation and Sun & Moon Animation.

Both the prevalence and effectiveness of video marketing have been on the rise since 2015. According to Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing Survey 2023– 92% of marketers reported a positive ROI from video content.

So creating videos that are consistent with your brand and look professional is very important for marketers. But, without your own in-house production team, this can prove challenging – and expensive.

Why choose Video Toolkits?

Usually businesses choose to outsource video editing – bringing in the big guns (like the P+S Video and Motion Graphics team) to craft something on-brief and on-budget, before smashing it into the stratosphere.

However, we understand that sometimes you just want to do it yourself, whether it’s a quick interview-style vid, a vlog, or a simple success story. So, how do you make it look consistent with the rest of your brand, without breaking the bank?

P+S Video Toolkits for in-house marketing teams

Fully customised to your brand (or sub-brand) specification, our Video Toolkits are the easiest way to produce brilliant content on a tight deadline or budget. Not only will your content look great, but you’ll also significantly reduce the cost of producing further content.

The toolkit includes a variety of custom-made assets, each designed to suit the type of content you’re producing. So whether it’s interviews, self-shot ‘talking to camera’ vids, or even event and webinar footage, you can use the toolkit with minimal knowledge of Adobe After Effects or Premiere Pro to insert and customise your brand elements.

What goes into our Video Toolkits? So glad you asked

But it’s probably better to show than tell, right?

In the following short videos, we’ve broken down the elements that can be included in the toolkit package. This example was produced for Thrio – one of our fantastic clients – using their brand colours, fonts and adhering to their motion guidelines.

Not all of the assets featured may be required in your toolkit, and equally this isn’t the extent of what we can produce for you – it’s all dependent on the style/purpose of video content you’re likely to need in the future. We’ll make something bespoke and fit for purpose.

Logo sting for intro and transition

Custom-made animation of your logo for the start of your video.

Watch video here.

Lower-third caption

An easily updated lower-third caption that can feature speaker name, job title and company name.

Watch video here.

Divider screen title

Custom-made title slide animation with easily editable text and optional imagery.

Watch video 1 here.

Watch video 2 here.


Perfectly legible subtitles in your brand font, ready for editing. You’ll also notice the ‘bug’ in the top right of this example – a semi-transparent logo overlay that features in the top corner of your video.

Watch the video here.

Quote screen

Have a question, quote or fact worth highlighting? Showing it on screen will really anchor it in the viewer’s mind.

Watch the video here.

Social links

A custom scene for just before the end of the video that features your social handles for quick reference.

Watch the video here.

Transition and logo sting outro

Custom-made animation of your logo to feature at the end of your video.

Watch the video here.


So, how does this all look together? Here are a few example toolkits for you to check out:

Watch video 1 here.

Watch video 2 here.


Whatever story you want to tell, we’ll help you share it with the world, on-brand and within budget. Talk to Proctors today.